Today, Barbados joins with countries around the globe to observe World Day of Social Justice, a day which was declared by the United Nations General Assembly on November 26, 2007 to be celebrated on February 20th each year. The theme chosen for this year is A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy. This theme is particularly relevant at a time when business, education and other aspects of life have been severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As we observe this day, remember that social justice focuses on human rights and equity or fairness as it relates to the distribution of wealth, opportunities and social privileges. The objective is to ensure that resources are distributed fairly and that persons are physically and psychologically safe within a society.
In 2018, Government established the Social Justice Committee to address matters of poverty alleviation, family strengthening, discrimination, access to education, integration of people living with disabilities, access to employment and ensuring the creation of a safe and secure environment for all.
As a response to the pandemic, Government has assisted individuals and families through direct financial transfers, provided devices to students to facilitate online learning, and continues to engage employers in an effort to retain workers.
The increase in the use of technologies in commerce has led to the creation of what is known as the digital economy. This refers to online connectivity among people, schools, businesses, devices, data and processes through the use of the internet.
Workers are now able to connect to their work places from different locations or from their homes using the internet, customers can interact with organisations from anywhere in the world at their own convenience, and students are able to connect with their teachers and teachers with their students.
As the country builds out its digital economy and creates a Smart Barbados, it is important that no one is left behind and that every household has access to the internet and electronic devices in order to stay connected, learn and be able to conduct business.
Some of the activities which persons are now performing electronically include tele-medicine (virtual visits to the doctor), online payment of bills, online banking, renewal of passports and drivers licences, online training, purchase of commodities and participating in virtual meetings to name a few.
The Social Justice Committee and Third Sector/Civil Society Organisations will continue to engage in awareness-building programmes so that every person including young people, elderly, people living with disabilities, and those who may be otherwise vulnerable in our society is able to gain access to information and engage in regular activities through the use of computers and the internet.
Government commits to continuing to do its part in protecting the most vulnerable in society and ensuring that their needs are met. Government will also continue to work with its partners in the Private Sector, the Third Sector and Workers’ Unions to achieve the objectives of the Social Justice Committee.
Minister Of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan